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It all begins with the best of intentions

Read this now: I have reduced my dream of visiting all 50 states in the Union to just 49: I will never ever ever step foot in the state of Oregon.

I now feel free to admit I've always felt a certain repulsion towards (or should that be "against"?) Oregon, or at least Oregonians. Not a very strong one -- I've met few in person because few of its denizens seem to want to leave its pristine, picture-perfect coastline, its incomparable forests, its intensely artistic and cultured cities where all the tvs are turned to Ovation and Trio and the people all talk in perfect iambic pentameter and only drink free-trade organically-grown coffee. The science fiction author Ursula K. Le Guin lives there, and though she was once one of my favorites I have had my difficulties with her later works and can't help thinking that some of the problem is that she's lived in the Better Than You state for so long.

And once I was watching some true-crime show on A&E or one of those channels and the subject was this woman who had been convicted of killing her boyfriend. The relationship had gone sour and devolved into mostly drunken fights, but there were (at least according to the not-so-subtle hints the show gave out) more holes in the case than in Swiss cheese.

I can't remember any of the names yet most of the facts remain in my mind. The girlfriend was from the midwest somewhere -- some place where people don't emote on cue, and strike others as bland and rather standoffish. This, one eventually realized, was a major strike against her. The woman was perhaps not of the most sterling character, but something about her struck a sympathetic chord in me. (You know I am usually not sympathetic to convicted murderers.) Anyway, apparently the two had gone on a long night drive to some coastal park to talk and make up, but (this is the testimony of the woman) they couldn't really mend their differences. Naturally -- both being alcoholics by this time -- both had been drinking. The boyfriend decided to take a walk to clear his head. The woman decided to wait for him in the car. The walk was along those high cliffs they have over there. (Great for tossing Republicans, meat-eaters, and other heretics off of, hey?) The woman was deathly afraid of heights -- something that the boyfriend's family corroborated. Anyway, the woman's testimony was that she waited for hours, but he never returned. Sometime later they found his body up the coast, and it was decided she had somehow pushed him off the cliff.

Actually, I can see how she might have done it. She claims she wouldn't go along the cliff walk because of her fear of heights, but it was dark, and she might have been persuaded for some reason. (To seek him out when he took too long to get back? Because he coaxed her to "just walk a little way, you won't see how high it is in the dark"?) Anyway, say they were out on the cliff walk together. And let's say either an altercation developed and she shoved him accidentally off the cliff, or -- I can tell you as a person who is also deathly afraid of heights this is quite a common occurrence -- he decided to tease her a little and pushed her closer to the cliff edge than her instinctual fears would bear. (We all know that to one who does not have them the fears of another can seem so silly, so easily cured if the fearful one would just relax. And admit it, guys -- you like to make your women just a little bit afraid every now and then, just to reassure yourself of her need for you.) I can see her striking out-- and then crawling back to the car alone and terrified to make up her frankly unconvincing (though not, because of that, necessarily untrue either) story about waiting all night in the car.

In any case there were no witnesses and no particular evidence of foul play (after all, a man + a few beers + an argument with a girlfriend + a cliff in the dark doesn't need any help to end up with a body in the water) and they had to let her go. She went back to her own home state. But the boyfriend's family wouldn't let go. Understandable under the circumstances -- but remember, this is Oregon. They found some helpers among the police and the state prosecutor's office, and they concocted a plan to lure her back into Oregon for a trial. And here is where I come to believe she's more sinned against than sinning -- even though she must have known how much the boyfriend's family hated her, she trusted whatever they said and came, and ended up being convicted (not of first degree murder but something lesser like manslaughter, or killing while not Oregonian) and serving time. I can't believe it's simply a case of the overweening pride of a criminal mastermind who thinks she got away with it coming back to gloat over her victim's family's grief and getting hoist by her own petard. I remember there being something about the family that I didn't like while watching the interviews. I couldn't put my finger quite on it, but I got the impression that they had never treated the woman as quite one of them. True she and the dead man weren't married, but apparently that hadn't caused the friction. But it seemed to me that they felt their son and brother had taken up association with someone not quite of their exalted level. And that they were the sort of perfectly nice people who are never mean to anyone they think of as beneath them, but that they will never let that person forget it for one instant. And if you dare to cross them in any way they will stop at no subterfuge to make sure you pay... Fan of Florence King though I am, her sympathy for female murderers usually leaves me nonplussed, but this time I know how she feels.

Anyway, that, and now this story of how they are ruining the lives of children forever for mere fooling around, is why I will never set foot on the soil of the state of Oregon.

(Via Kathy Shaidle. By the way, if anyone knows about the crime above, feel free to tell me in the comments. It was featured on one of those A&E crime shows a couple of years ago.)

Comments (14)

In all fairness, this description of Oregon applies to Portland and the college towns. Of course, like any other state, that comprises the bulk of the population.

The part I hail from is much more palatable.

Do you go about telling people how beautiful and green your state is? And that you grow REAL pine trees shaped like Christmas trees there? If so, I demand that you stop immediately.

(To be fair, everyone from north of the Mason-Dixon line has made that claim about up-north pine trees. It's like some sort of point of pride.)

The_Real_JeffS [TypeKey Profile Page]:

I was born in Oregon, and currently live only a few miles north of the Oregon-Washington border. Ken is pretty much right; the northwest corner of the state, over to Portland and the Cascades, down to around the Eugene area, is officially Ga-Ga Country.

One of my relatives (a life long resident of southwestern Oregon) once opined that we should send ninjas into that region, and take out all of the college professors. At the time, I thought that a trifle extreme (I prefer exile to North Korea myself), but I sympathized with his feelings. Right now, I'd add overzealous prosecutors to that list....and send them to Waziristan in lieu of NoKo.

And this isn't the only silliness to come out of the (formerly) Great State of Oregon. I remember that Oregon DOT (or Revenue Department, maybe) once seriously considered requiring all cars to have built-in transponders, with GPS receivers, so they could charge drivers for using state roads....by the mile. That study lasted long enough to get into the papers. Although I'll bet good money that the concept papers are sitting in a prominent place on some bureaucrat's desk, just waiting.....

And I must admit.....I carefully avoid going into Oregon as much as possible, even though they have no sales taxes. Especially around the Portland area. The place is just way too wacky.

BTW, the eastern half of Oregon tends to be more down to earth....and is just as pretty, as Ken aludes to. Not to mention a whole lot less populated. It's worth a visit. If you like small towns and lots of scenery, that is.

The_Real_JeffS [TypeKey Profile Page]:

Heh! Sorry, Andrea, but Washington is "The Evergreen State". Our motto is "Keep Washington Green. Spend money!"

cardeblu [TypeKey Profile Page]:

"...its intensely artistic and cultured cities where all the tvs are turned to Ovation and Trio and the people all talk in perfect iambic pentameter and only drink free-trade organically-grown coffee."

Heh. I lived in Portland from 1992-2000, having moved there from Houston, but was born and raised for 20 years in the Boise area. At first I thought it was such a "cool" place, but soon found out that it is all so tiresomely contrived (shudder, gag).

Am now, like TRJ, just across the River in the somewhat more conservative no-man's land, where we're pretty much ignored by Olympia and only meaningful to Stumptown in terms of traffic.

Those poor boys, though. PC zero tolerance runs amok once again. I just hope and pray that kind of thing doesn't seep too far eastward as I'm seriously considering moving back to the land of my birth.

I do have to say, though, that the PNW, hell, the whole NW is absolutely beautiful, no doubt about it.

cardeblu [TypeKey Profile Page]:

Oh, and I think I know which case you're talking about from 1995: Linda Stangel. At least that's the one I remember.

That's it, that's the one -- though I'd forgotten that the police had taken her up the cliff.

prairiecat [TypeKey Profile Page]:

I've been through Oregon several times. Not all that impressed, as mountains & tall trees make me claustrophobic, even if they are pretty. Obviously,
this feeling applies to more than Oregon.

Maybe I could stand the BetterThanThou artsy-fartsy socialism if they didn't act as if THEY were responsible for the beauty of the land.

Evidently they're stupid & vindictive, too. Scary.

Arrogance run rampant. No thanks.

Sigivald [TypeKey Profile Page]:

Naw, Ken, not quite. Portland metro's only a million and change, and Eugene and Corvallis together don't exceed 500k, so altogether they have not quite half the state's population.

Still a lot of damned hippies.

On the other hand, this school-related stupidity is, in all honesty, just the fault of the local school administrators - I can't imagine that happening in Portland, squishy as it is.

I can just see local idiots in McMinnville falling into that stupidity (and that DA won't be happy come next election if he goes forward with it). Definitely wouldn't happen east of the Cascades or south of Eugene, though.

(And the socialism? As much to be blamed on Californian immigrants as natives.

Turned LA or SF into a socialist wasteland?

That's okay, you can move north and ruin Portland and Seattle, too!)

As Sig suggests, the main problem with Oregon and Oregonians is that they let in the Californians. (My late mother-in-law was an Old Oregonian - ancestors born on the Oregon Trail and all that. Great lady, Old School - emphatically not an old hippie type.) I suspect the Old Oregonians are cursing their folly in not setting up vigilante groups at the California border to keep them out at gunpoint.

Oregon is beautiful. I lived there for five years and was certainly sorry to leave that landscape (and Powell's bookstore). When we left in 2003 Californication was reaching its more mature stages, and the natural subsequent process of Mexifornication was revving up. A brief visit in 2006 suggested that these processes were continuing apace.

I'll give Oregonians credit, though, for voting down through referendums really tyrannical stuff like that heinous law allowing permanent seizure of property of anyone suspected of being involved in any way in criminal drug-related activity.

The_Real_JeffS [TypeKey Profile Page]:

I suspect the Old Oregonians are cursing their folly in not setting up vigilante groups at the California border to keep them out at gunpoint.

And the Washingtonians as well.....I was born in Oregon, but grew up in Washington, and watched the Californians occupy our land. If I'd been of age, I'd have volunteered for the vigilantes.

California out of Cascadia!

Parts of Northern California (the physical part) are mighty sweet, though. If you guys ever rise up and throw off the Californian yoke, you might as well go for a little imperialist expansion southward.

No, Moira, what California needs (and I've advocated it for years) is to be split east/west (not north/south as idiots would say). More specifically, it needs to be split between the coastal hippie/leftist infested territory and the rest of us.

Oh, and Andrea, I actually dislike pine trees as Christmas trees. I like Doug Fir.

Of course, those grow primarily in Oregon and Washington.

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